First-aid injury chatbot
Jasmin Cheah, APAM, reviews a chatbot that provides patients with simple first-aid advice after sustaining an injury.
Physio Phebe is a chatbot designed by APA member Phebe Liston to provide non-health professional consumers with general first-aid advice following an injury, while emphasising physiotherapy as the key contributor to injury management and rehabilitation.
Developer: Phebe Liston
Use it: via FB Messenger
By typing ‘Physio Phebe’ in the Facebook messenger search bar, an online conversation is commenced with pre- determined questions and answers that are automated based on the user’s selection of responses, such as to pain duration, if there was an accident that could be recalled, the nature of injury, as well as the body area affected. Links are then provided to the appropriate video on the Physio Phebe website, guiding users about what to do, what to avoid, as well as who to see and when to see them. There is inclusion of a ‘red flags’ list which acts as a warning for users to seek medical attention if identifying with these conditions. If exercises are warranted after obtaining a diagnosis, there is a link to purchase the website’s general ‘rehab guides’, and a link to the blog, which contains invaluable information on common musculoskeletal conditions.
This chatbot is a fantastic resource for the general consumer with limited knowledge about injury first-aid and pain management. Due to the quick, simple, and reassuring instructions combined with an interactive easy-to-navigate format, there is immediate assistance and direction on what to do next, which can be incredibly comforting to users. It is particularly useful for those unable to gain access to a physiotherapist or medical professional easily, such as those living in regional and rural Australia.
However, simplicity can be a double-edged sword. A simple algorithm that determines the immediate treatment for an injury based on very few questions, combined with a limited list of red flags, may result in the wrong instructions being given for certain conditions. This can have dire consequences, so caution must be heeded. Reassuringly, users are always directed to seek further advice from their medical doctor or physiotherapist.
Physio Phebe chatbot is a great initiative, where, if upgraded, could be expanded to include specific questions to allow a more tailored injury plan, or allow the user to type in their own answers or questions into the message bar. It can also act as a template for use in other areas of physiotherapy and for certain conditions with clear treatment protocols.
- provides reassuring and immediate evidence-based advice on
- first-aid injury management
- easily accessible and user friendly, where a phone number can be entered into the Messenger app, so a Facebook account is not necessary.
- only provides general advice
- there is the potential for wrong instructions to be given due to few questions asked
- can feel impersonal talking to a computer system rather than an actual person.
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Note: the views expressed by the reviewer are not necessarily those of the APA.
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